If anyone had anything bad to say about their experience at this years Jenn Rotsinger Women’s Empowerment Weekend, it’s 100% on them. Even if you had a bad meet performance, just being at The Jenn, named after one of the most genuine people that I’ve ever met, one the most fiercest athletes I have ever watched and a real inspiration for women in powerlifting, was more incredible and uplifting than anything I’ve ever experienced. I went last year and had butterflies in my belly from how truly awesome it was to be there and this year did not disappoint. Although, I did.
I signed up for the meet while simultaneously, asking for sponsorship information because how could I not support an all women’s meet to the fullest extent. However, I have this ever increasing battle within me between athlete and business owner. Similar to many of you who are parents or have time consuming and high stress jobs. Corey, my husband, and I are both entrepreneurs. We both run Girls Who Powerlift and our new gym, Iron Knight. Since January alone, we signed the lease for a warehouse space where our gym is, and then signed a lease to the space next door, when it became available to set up warehouse and office space for GWPL. As much as we love what we do and love this sport, business ownership of any kind is incredibly stressful. We are devoted to our followers and customers and to our members. On top of it all, prior to finding the space for the gym, which took longer than we anticipated, we thought that we should finally treat ourselves to a vacation. So we booked a 10 day trip overseas.
As we got closer and closer to starting meet prep, I started to develop an impingement in my shoulder, which was actually from working and not from training. I got it treated as soon as possible in hopes that it would heal in time, which it did provided that I did the recommended stretching several times a day. I really try my best to heed the advice of professionals, but this type of treatment meant that if I missed a day or so of stretching and then tried to bench or squat, I was in pain for a day or so.
Training was not going well and then we went away for vacation. I was basically training once or twice a week and my lifts were feeling like boulders on my shoulders. I felt weak and exhausted all the time. I almost dropped out of this meet several times but it was a meet dedicated to women, I HAD to support it. My heart was in it but my head was not. To make matters worse, I had to go alone, without my person, my better half, the only person that can almost literally read my mind. Corey had to stay to make sure the gym was safe and stay home with my 9 month old handful of a puppy. The idea of doing this meet was becoming more and more daunting. Thankfully I have friends that love me and are willing to put aside their precious time to help me.
So we packed and got on the road. I told myself prior not to expect anything great. You’re only there to support the meaning behind The Jenn, empowerment. Corey, also my coach, told me to treat it like any other day in the gym. I trained well and consistently for about a week and half, didn’t peak, didn’t deload but my head was still in a weird place. I was ready to give it all up because it was too hard. I didn’t want to be laughed it. The passed 2 meets I competed in, the announcer always introduced me to the platform by saying the owner of Girls Who Powerlift. I was starting to feel like a joke. How can I represent GWPL followers with low numbers and at the highest weight I have ever been in my life? These questions and the feeling of doubt were rolling around in my head. I thought about what I would tell myself if someone were to send me a dm with these same feelings, but that wasn’t working either.
On Sunday, June 25, 2017 I put my singlet on and when I walked into that room hesitantly for rules and a girl that I stood next to asked me if I thought she should wear her squat shoes to get her rack height and I told her yes. She told me it was her first meet and she was really nervous. I told her, “just remember to listen to the commands and to have fun!” I’m not sure if I was talking to her or myself but a sense of calmness came over me and I realized that I started this because it was fun. I loved the feeling of being strong and being under the barbell. I love doing meets. Despite the fact that I hadn’t trained properly or peaked at all, I was here and I was determined to have fun! I was conservative, as usual, with my openers and although this was “just another day at the gym” it was one of those days that I was gonna see what I was really made, so my handler/friend and I made a plan. My bench had progressed the most so we decided to focus on that. My plan was to take it easy on squats, hit a small PR if possible, put it all into my bench and then go for broke on my deadlift, which of the 3 lifts needs the most work. And that’s what we did! I hit a 275 lbs squat, which is a 5 lbs PR and then went on to hit a 154 lbs bench press which is more weight than I’ve ever touched on bench. It was only a 6lbs PR but it’s the bench press so that is a lot! By the end of bench I was 6 for 6 and on top of the world! After watching Jenn Rotsinger and Trevor Jaffe go head to head on deadlifts for charity, I was fired up! We decided to change my deadlift opener, which was a good idea. The not so great idea was going up 40 lbs for my second attempt. Again, my deadlift has always been my weak point, leverages… but I was going for it. Second attempt got to my knees but nothing passed that, so I went for it again on my third.
I’ve never grinded out anything. I usually let go. I always sike myself out. I was determined to get this weight up. I tried my best. But my strength was not there. I walked off the stage in tears. I was embarrassed and I was upset. I wanted this so bad! I called Corey who was watching on the live stream, and he said, “babe, you did it!!” I thought the stream went out or something because clearly I had not done it! He said, “you wanted to leave it all on the platform and you did!!!” I cried some more, almost blubbered but he was right! For once in my career as a powerlifter, I failed, not because of a missed call and not because I gave up. I gave it my all!
Life PRs are tougher than gym or meet PRs. They don’t feel as good while they are happening. They feel heavier than any amount of 45 lbs plates on your back and they practically crush you but once you’ve gotten them, they are so much more rewarding. I may have initially walked off the stage like a baby but I was happy. I did what I came to do. I left it all on the platform. (I even got 3rd place in my weight class!) I learned a lot about myself that day. I learned that I CAN DO IT! I learned that I have an incredible team of people and friends that support me, even when I’m crazy, neurotic and controlling and I remembered why I love this sport. The highs and lows are a part of the fun. But more importantly, it’s the people, the meet director’s, their support staff, the audience and the athletes that make it awesome!!
If you are contemplating whether you should enter your first meet, stop! Just do it!! And I hope to see more of you ladies at next year’s The Jenn!